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No.29 ,Economy  Jan 14, 2016

The Approaches of Kyoto Companies
The secrets of competing in the international arena seen in the ancient capital

Kyoto is recognized as the Silicon Valley of Japan

“We would really like to go to Kyoto.” A delegation from a certain local government in Shanghai, China visited Japan in spring this year and communicated their wish to a private think tank. They did not want to go sightseeing in the ancient capital. “We regard Kyoto as the Silicon Valley of Japan. We would like to find the secret of its strengths,” said a member of the delegation. A favorite tourist destination around the world, with 1,200 years of history, Kyoto also has another face. As IT companies in the United States concentrate in Silicon Valley, outstanding manufacturers, especially electronics companies, concentrate in Kyoto. The presence of Kyoto manufacturers in the global manufacturing industry has been increasing. On September 25, the iPhone 6s was launched worldwide. Its leading feature is the 3D Touch function, ... [Read more]

No.27 ,Economy  Jun 19, 2015

Reversing the Disappearance of the Regions – Learning from Success Stories Local (L) Prescriptions Differ from Global (G) Ones
The Key to Revival is to Create Clusters of Corporations and Towns

TOYAMA Kazuhiko, Representative Director and CEO, Industrial Growth Platform, Inc.

As the premise for understanding my unique prescription for what should be done to revive the regions, I would like to point out that the Japanese economy is divided into a global (G) sphere and a local (L) sphere. The players in the global economic sphere are the big corporations centered on the manufacturing industry and the IT industry. They compete with the rest of the world; to use a sporting metaphor, they compete at the Olympic level. On the other hand, the actors in the local economic sphere are community-based small and medium-sized companies in retail and wholesale, transportation, distribution, social welfare, day care, nursing and medical care. The focus is on customer-facing services, but since the locality imposes limitations on location, the sporting metaphor would be a prefectural tournament. ... [Read more]

No.27 ,Economy  Jun 13, 2015

The Piketty Phenomenon and Reality in Japan: Distributive Politics – Overemphasis and the Lack of Growth Policies

Kojima Akira, Member, Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Trustee, Chairman of the World Trade Center Tokyo

Dubbed a “rock star” economist as he emerged from France, Paris School of Economics Professor Thomas Piketty has also caused a major sensation in Japan. The Japanese translation of his stand-out publication, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, sold more than 100,000 copies within the first few weeks of its release. In the publishing industry, which is suffering from a structural publishing slump, publishers of the Japanese editions of foreign books have become an object of envy. The theme of the book is inequality, and in Japan, where widening inequality has long been a source of lively debate, “inequality” has become a point of contention which has even found its way into economic policy debates in the National Diet.... [Read more]

No.27 ,Economy  Jun 06, 2015

The Future of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: Concerns for Transparency and Governance

At the time of the IMF and World Bank Spring meeting in Washington in April, there was much media attention over the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) proposed by China. Both the IMF and the World Bank have publicly welcomed the AIIB as a sign of increase in funding for infrastructure needs in Asia, but hope that the AIIB will cooperate well with these existing international institutions. Thus far, there is no apparent opposition to the AIIB, which is in stark contrast with 18 years ago, when Japan’s proposal for an “Asia Monetary Fund” at the IMF and World Bank Fall meeting fell through due to criticism from both the United States and China.... [Read more]

No.26 ,Economy  Jun 05, 2015

Superconducting Maglev Technology: Future and Development

The journey toward realizing superconducting magnetic levitation (maglev) that achieves speeds of up to 500 kilometers an hour has come one step closer to its end, with the emergence of a train known as the linear motor car. JR Central, which is responsible for the operation of the Tokaido Shinkansen line, started work on the construction of the Chuo Shinkansen line for use by the superconducting maglev at the end of last year. The occasion was marked with a ceremony held on December 17, 2014 to pray for safe construction of the line, which will run between JR Central’s Shinagawa Station in Minato Ward, Tokyo and Nagoya Station in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. If all goes well, service is scheduled to begin in 2027, when linear motor cars will connect the 285.6-kilometer distance between Shinagawa and Nagoya in as little as 40 minutes.... [Read more]

No.26 ,Economy  Jun 05, 2015

Fifty Years of the Shinkansen, and the Opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen

October 1, 2014 marked the passage of fifty years since the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train line), which was Japan’s first Shinkansen, and also the world’s first high-speed railway. Japan’s Shinkansen network—which began with the 552.6 km stretch between the stations of Tokyo and Shin-Osaka—has continued to grow and expand and, including the new Hokuriku Shinkansen (between Nagano and Kanazawa) that entered service on March 14, 2015, has now reached a total length of 2,848.3 km. The Shinkansen mentioned above are the ones capable of running at speeds of over 200 km/h. Apart from these, there are also the 275.9 km of the Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen, which are both of the type that run onto conventional train lines; the Hakata-Minami Line; and the 1.8 km stretch of the Joetsu Line between Echigo-Yuzawa and Gala-Yuzawa; which are also essentially part of the Shinkansen network. Including these, the overall length extends to 3,134.5 km. In addition, the construction of new Shinkansen lines is also continuing: the Hokkaido Shinkansen between Shin-Aomori and Sapporo, the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Tsuruga, and the section of the Kyushu Shinkansen... [Read more]

No.25 ,Economy  May 14, 2015

Abenomics Walks a Tightrope as Difficulties Lie Ahead

YOSHIZAKI Tatsuhiko, Economist

Few prime ministers who have been elected from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have won general elections two times in a row. When speaking of prime ministers who demonstrated shrewdness in elections, some people may make mention of Koizumi Junichiro. However, although Koizumi won a landslide victory in the 2005 election following a dissolution of the Diet staged under the name of postal-services reform, his re-election at the previous poll in 2003 was much less convincing for the LDP, the result not something to boast about. Likewise in 1986, Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro brought victory to the LDP — winning more than 300 seats for the only time ever in the era of the multi-seat constituency electoral system. ... [Read more]

No.25 ,Economy  May 12, 2015

Control of social security expenses should be expedited.
Ensuring Escape from the Deflationary Spiral and to Again Increase Consumption Tax
― Outlook of the primary balance of the central and local governments
― Case where consumption tax rate was raised to 10% as originally planned

ITOH Motoshige, Professor at the Graduate School of Economics of University of Tokyo

< Key Points >
・The move to escape from the deflationary spiral also contributed to the improvement of the primary balance.
・The reduction of the deficit by half in fiscal 2015 is challenging, but the focus is on the next step.
・The rapid rise in social security expenses is more serious than the postponement of the tax hike.
With the postponement of the consumption tax hike and the dissolution of the House of Representatives, economic policy entered a new phase. Discussions have commenced on the evaluation of Abenomics in the past two years and the new outlook following the election. I wish to tidy up the points under... [Read more]

No.25 ,Economy  May 12, 2015

Medium-term economic forecast — Japan Center for Economic Research
Establish Social Security that will Support the Future Generation
— Allocate 13 trillion yen to childcare support. Stop investing public funds in medical insurance and seek independence.

Kuwahara Susumu, Principal Economist, Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER)

< Key Points >
・Action on the declining birthrate will revive the birthrate, bolstering the growth rate.
・Raise medical and nursing care insurance premium rates and patients’ self-pay rates.
・Encourage nationwide discussions by showing choices for painful reforms.
Following the Lower House election that was held in December 2014, it has been determined that the next consumption tax hike will be put off for eighteen months, and the roadmap for fiscal reconstruction has become increasingly uncertain. Meanwhile, the number of births fell in 2014 to a level that almost dropped below the benchmark of 1 million. The government has set a ... [Read more]

No.25 ,Economy  May 07, 2015

Tightening Job Market Begins to Drag Down the Economy
— Challenges Confronting the Second Stage of Abenomics

Komine Takao, Professor, Department of Regional Development, Taisho University

Since the spring of 2014, a labor shortage in Japan has emerged as a sudden challenge to its economy. Until just before this shortage became apparent, our normal discussions on the economy primarily focused on possible countermeasures that could be taken to address unemployment issues, which were for the most part intended to provide for employment opportunities in response to such questions as “How do we put an end to the rising unemployment rate?” or “How do we improve the employment of young adults?” and “How do we ensure employment for the elderly by the time they start receiving pension?” But after the spring of 2014, Japan was suddenly confronted with a labor shortage, which must have been a huge surprise to the general public at the time.... [Read more]

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